biscottes!

No running? …I managed to hurt my foot. Plantar fasciitis. It’s ok, I will try again when I am back from China in September (!!). I can’t risk not being able to walk as I have a lot of hiking ahead of me.

In preparation for my trip, I tried to think of FODMAP-friendly stuff I could take with me. I wisely cut off my internet time-wasting websites for 24 hours this morning before I left the house, which meant when I got home at 8pm this evening, I couldn’t default to my slumped-in-front-of-my-laptop default (I use a Mac program called Self-Control, where you can set a blacklist of websites and then tell it how long you’re not allowed to access them for. It’s a life saver when working on essays).

So this evening, in the 2.5 hours I’ve been home, I:
– Washed and hung out laundry
– Made myself quesadillas for dinner
– Worked through 3 huge piles of washing up (some of it from the weekend-before-last)
– Baked FODMAP-friendly banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for my trip (I am not even going to pretend that they will last me longer than the flight, but that’s already a huge deal)
– Made biscottes (which the internet informs me are generally known as “Zwieback”” by English-speakers?). I was trying to think how I could transport low-FODMAPS bread to Guizhou (which is hot and humid) without it immediately going mouldy. I came up with the idea of turning a loaf of my favourite Alpine Sour Rye bread into biscottes, which as long as they’re sealed in an airtight box, should be ok. Dry rusks may not sound terribly appealing but they’ll be most welcome if my stomach gets upset from too many FODMAPs.

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In case anyone ever wondered about how to make biscottes — leave your bread out for about 24 hours so it can dry out as much as possible first, then put them in the oven at 150 C for an hour (I’m tempted to put “or two” as I saw online to put them in for 1.5 hours, or 100 C for 3 hours — but I put mine in for an hour and they were perfect, if somewhat brown for the lower rack).

day 2 down, a hundred more to go

Today I did Chinese practice with Rinny for 5 hours, working on reading content from a contract dispute. I am now 80x better at reading contracts in Chinese. Did you know that “该” in a contract has nothing to do with 应该 but in fact is the formal way of saying 这? This crucial fact has been lacking from my knowledge base for YEARS and caused much confusion whenever a contract was dumped in front of me. [version for non-Chinese readers: “gai” is a character most habitually found as part of “yinggai”, which means “must”. But when written on its own in a more formal piece of writing, it means “this”. You can imagine how confused I was for a long time reading things that appeared to start with “MUST AGREEMENT IS BETWEEN PARTY AND PARTY B”.]

After some long-distance phone cajoling by James, I then changed and went for a “run”. “Recover-from-injury-physio-run-number-2” involved lots of charging up and down around trees. I really feel like an idiot in the park; I basically run like a dog would, with no apparent direction or purpose, and stop and start at what must appear completely arbitrary intervals.

Warm up: 5min
3x [90s walk, 45s run, 2min walk, 45s run]
Cool down: 10min
Spiky ball massage.

I might go again tomorrow, it was very pleasant… I got a little stitch at one point, which part of me was rather happy about, because that meant I am learning to breathe as I run again.

i did it!

I woke up an hour before my alarm, and it was already daylight, so with all my running gear so carefully prepared the night before, I gracefully stepped into my running shoes and was off!

(Once more, my apologies to those who would love to hear about my travels and couldn’t care less about my pathetic running)

Day 01:
5 min warm-up walk
[2 min walk + 30 sec run] x 6
10 min cool-down walk
followed by spiky massage ball on my lower back and deep glutes, and foam roller on my calves and shins.

And yes, it was wonderful. I have to keep this going.

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It’s not always easy to get myself to yoga. I didn’t want to go yesterday morning — it was 5:45am, James was in bed after waiting so many months to be together again, and I had slept really badly and did NOT want to get up. I also was grumpy because I knew I had to buy a 1-month pass even though I’d be banned from exercise for a week (more on this below) and then we’re going to Taiwan. But it’s so expensive to do Bikram it’s rarely not worth getting a pass.

Anyway, I went, precisely because it was my very last chance before my one-week ban commenced, and I felt meh-to-neutral all the way through. But on the last shavasana, I felt incredible. I think it’s a bit like a Rubik’s Cube or a videogame cheat code — you have to configure your body in 26 different postures, twice each, feeling crap, and then ta-dah! You feel good.

And if there was a fairly simple cheat code you could use whenever you want, to feel happy and well… you would be a fool not to use it at least a couple times a week!

Anyway — exercise ban. This morning I had an appointment to get my right knee’s common peroneal nerve injected with cortisone to try and improve my shin pain/nerve damage. It was pretty horrid, and then my leg went rather numb, but it’s wearing off now. I am reassured that my shin is aching which suggests they hit the right nerve. However despite me cajoling the specialist, the doctor and the nurse separately, they are adamant that I cannot exercise for a week and no, not even yoga.

My volunteer stint for Oxfam Trailwalker is in 10 days so I am trusting I’ll be ok to hike 11km by then. I certainly am cringing at the idea of not going to yoga for a week! But at least James and I can relax and enjoy a lazy Easter weekend.

On the 13th of March, my replacement at work will be starting! So I am very close to an end and there is bright light at the end of the tunnel. I’m a little nervous about how quickly work wants me to move on (my boss mentioned me potentially not bothering to come back from my holiday, but if he thinks I can do a complete handover in 8 business days he is quite deluded). But I’ll certainly be out of there by the end of May.

I have been debating blowing some of my savings to go back to Europe in June. I’d like to go visit my grandmother in the UK, and I would also like to walk a couple hundred more km on the Camino. It’s probably not a very wise idea but… it’s at the back of my mind. First and foremost I need to call Immigration and work out if it will affect my Australian citizenship eligibility though.

baked eggs and bikram

So it’s Thursday night and I’m almost done with week 5 at work. I started the week suffering from awful anxiety, and the entirety of Monday was spent trying desperately to hold on to my last French nerve (despite 6am Bikram); my whole chest felt tingly and I had a constant sense of dread. But the new office is actually quite a big improvement so far, quite unexpectedly. One of my biggest fears had been noise levels, but in fact everyone is uncharacteristically quiet and restrained, I haven’t had to wear my earplugs yet!

We’re on the 11th floor, and I have floor-to-ceiling windows right behind me and to my left — with the green of trees swaying and a huge expanse of bright blue sky, it really does lift my spirits when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I need to take more and better pictures, but of course most of the time taking photos for my blog is at the bottom of my daily task list.

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I have also been making an effort to cook meals in the evening, but I tend to slip into apathy as the week progresses. Monday night I made vegetable and egg fried rice noodles, Tuesday night I made a huge pan of mashed potatoes and ate the entire thing with tuna and sweetcorn. By Wednesday night I was in a crappy state of mind… My dinner was crisps and popcorn and ice cream, whilst finishing Top Of The Lake, which was such a brilliant piece of TV (if you like stunning landscapes and bleak detective stories of course).

Today I redeemed myself somewhat. This is perhaps because I got through my work day without any sense of panic, and took training new staff and client meetings in my stride; I had a lunch with my boss where we discussed the changes he is implementing to try to keep me (which, I’ll confess, I’m really impressed with so far. He is unrecognisable and it’s changing our workplace so much). I also had a frank discussion with an employee who has been very difficult and hopefully it will improve our working relationship also.

I went straight from work to Bikram, where I had a KICKASS class. I am not generally a fan of 6pm classes and I had never seen this teacher before, but when she called out a “Good job Rosie” during awkward pose… my keener instincts kicked in and I pushed myself so hard! I was nailing posture after posture, going deeper and stronger and feeling incredible, even delivering four good triangle poses despite my hips! — and then I hit a wall during the spine-strengthening series. I kept thinking I was going to vomit, and suddenly noticing how hot it was; I sat out most of half-tortoise, camel and rabbit, shaking and looking like I’d been punched in the stomach whenever I saw myself in the mirror… and then got my second wind and crushed my last few postures. But by the time I crawled into the shower, I felt like I’d run a marathon! The water ran ice-cold and I couldn’t adjust the temperature or even move, just stood there, trying to remember the faraway dreamlike world outside that shower.

Now I feel fabulous. I even cooked baked eggs with mushrooms and cheese when I got home, and it was really good. And tomorrow I have an exciting nuclear medicine bone scan, as my new sports doctor is obsessed with my mystery shin injury which has been haunting me for over 3 years now and keeping me from running. Who knows what she will do with the results, but I am intrigued to at least get a diagnosis.

50 days until James is back from Iraq!

week 4 down, how many left to go?

This past week I did some good things — catching up with the lovely Fiona on Tuesday, and attending the Confined 6 exhibition opening night with Kerry on Wednesday. This was my favourite painting:

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It’s called Echidna Dreaming After The Rain by Dennis Thorpe (2014).

This is a story about my family and me going camping for the weekend. It was a sunny day until the afternoon when the clouds came and it started to rain. So we cooked the fish we had caught and waited until the rain stopped. The next morning the sky was nice and clear and my mother said “We are going to find some echidnas because after the rain you can see the new dirt and follow their tracks”.

I did lots of yoga, as my hip injuries have slowly improved, and I can return to more and more postures, with only standing-head-to-knee pose and toe stand being off limits for now. I realised that because of the injuries I’ve learned to pay more attention in each pose, every movement I make. It’s probably, in a hippy kind of way, made me better at Bikram. Also I started doing my physio! Incroyable, non? I realised I should do the exercises in the yoga studio whilst I’m waiting for class to begin. So far, so good.

Every time I think about going to yoga without Polly, my eyes well up and my throat feels constricted. Today she left — following a lovely breakfast with Graham and Skye, who then drove us to the airport — and I feel so horribly empty without her here. I managed to lock myself out of my flat on my way out to yoga; of course, my spare keys were still inside the flat because Polly had only just given them back to me. Fortunately my landlord was in town and she came over after my Bikram class to let me back in. All of these statements are a bit of a mishmash; I’ll blame it on missing Polly.

That, and I’m kind of not great overall. Despite all the yoga, I had a meltdown at work on Thursday and told my bosses I can’t do it anymore. We’re moving to new offices tomorrow so everything is very hectic at the moment, and they have asked me to reconsider what it would take for me to stay, but it’s going to require so many changes that I don’t see how I could last much longer there. In any case, I have to stay for another couple of months as I am managing a software development project that would take just as long to train up someone else to take over, as it would to see through to completion, and once it’s done, it will be much quicker and easier to train my replacement. It feels good to have put my unhappiness on the table and have some open discussions about how I don’t want to be there anymore, so overall, I suppose my hatred of work is somewhat diminished, but I don’t know for how long. I am at least looking forward to going into work tomorrow to see my new workspace; I’ll try to remember to take pictures!

hanging in there – week 2 summary

Last check-in I had a list of things I wanted to do. I’ve achieved mostly just the Bikram (injuring my hip in the process but that’s ok, I can still go, I just spend a lot of time standing/laying down instead of doing the poses).

The highlight of the week was extending Polly’s stay here for another 2 weeks, which makes me so happy. It’s the kind of thing you agonise over for hours and the moment you decide “to hell with the expense!” you realise it was absolutely the right decision!

I did get my hair cut, and I even have a delightful picture of my sister and me (and the haircut, which looks identical from this angle but is in fact very different I promise), from a 70s-themed party we went to. Polly is Hunter S. Thompson. She is fantastic.

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We were planning to visit the ACCA Menagerie exhibition today but Polly was quite hungover and I had to work this morning… next weekend is the long Australia Day weekend so I’m sure we will make it somehow!

In terms of how much I currently hate my job, well. Let’s instigate a scale which goes from 1 – “I quite enjoy this really”, to 10, “Will someone please firebomb this place already”… two weeks ago I was at a solid 11, which was downgraded over the course of the week to a 6, and then fluctuated between 7 and 8 over the course of last week, depending on how long since I’d been to yoga. Unfortunately by Friday I was well up to 9 1/2 and having to work on a Sunday morning did not help.

Here’s hoping for a week that tops out at 8. Hoping, but not daring to believe. I don’t believe in a higher power, so… Oh Bikram, give me strength!
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